GoggleBox as a Public Sphere?

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“Popular media” in my opinion, is what’s shown on free-to-air programs that create discussion or interest amongst the public because it’s new, thus the new television program “GoggleBox”. This also fits the mediated public sphere category, as the show takes ‘ordinary’ viewers to comment on television shows. These expressions of opinion are then filmed to make the show.

Executive producer David McDonald says “”There’s an assumption that the show is about criticising shows and tearing them apart, but that’s not it at all, it has a lot of heart and warmth, Nor is it about polarising the audience at home with outrageous commentaries, regrettable slips of the tongue or dysfunctional relationships. That’s not the sphere where we exist, that’s not the heart of the show” As well as this, the cast of the show is claimed to be different to other TV shows as they have no reason to be broadcast, which apparently seems to connect and appeal to the ordinary viewer.

Yet in an almost accidental way, Gogglebox taps into the culture of modern TV and its consumption. It is, says McDonald, another version of the now-defunct watercooler conversation, which has fragmented, sped up and migrated from the workplace and coffee shop to Twitter and social media. Even though few of us gather around TV at an appointed time to watch a show on a single screen these days, it’s another version of interacting with and commenting upon TV.


This is an example of the way people are getting their share of debate and opinion about a popular text (such as television viewing). Yet somehow it seems to take away the whole point of having an original opinion. By watching a family or group of people give their opinions of a particular show, you’re perhaps making your conclusions from this without being able to interact and form discussion with the cast. The content of what they’re viewing is also mediated and controlled by the producers, as well as the cast itself and what is being said. The talk generated from the show is often not even about the content the cast viewed, it’s what was said and how it was conveyed in a humorous way that gets people talking, which asks, is the only way your opinion is given exposure influenced in the way you can appeal to others as funny or politically incorrect?

McDonald likens the “cast” to well-crafted sitcom characters; “most of their jokes and humour and pathos stems from their character. They’re not trying to be smart-arses, they’re just who they are and that’s what makes them funny.

Gogglebox could very well contribute to mediated public sphere’s as the people cast are claimed to be “regular” people giving reactions to specific programs, yet some issues relate back to the producers and how much control they have in the way only specific opinions and content is available for discussion. The public is basically given no opportunity to rebut or disagree with the show. Yet the cast is basically free to say what they like, given, when it’s their moment on air.


5 thoughts on “GoggleBox as a Public Sphere?

    huonc said:
    April 14, 2015 at 5:08 am

    Good post. I think your example illustrates your argument and the concept well. It’s definitely different to a mediated public sphere such as QandA in a sense that Gogglebox isn’t tackling contemporary social issues that would be debated on QandA, but it is still similar because of the choice of shows being viewed as well as the responses of the characters that end up being put onto the episode. I’d argue the cast do have a reason to be broadcast because that is the whole idea of the program, to film ‘regular’ families/people watching and reacting to television. Also, I’m wondering if any parts of the viewers’ reactions are scripted instead of the genuine response.
    Your idea of people having their ‘original opinion’ taken away is interesting because I think in today’s world that is saturated with media, it becomes difficult to determine if a person’s opinion is original or not. We see and hear so many different opinions on a variety of issues every day and I think this must affect the way people form an opinion on a particular issue, similar to the debate on media effects.

    Liked by 1 person

    blairruby said:
    April 18, 2015 at 6:08 am

    This is a really good example of a mediated public sphere! Through the diverse nature of the audience members it is clear the show is attempting to represent our society. You really made me think about how it may not seem like it, but in fact is a type of controlled public sphere. The idea that this television program can put a humorous twist on what is actually being conveyed allows the producer to remain in control. The specific content and opinions shown manipulate what we are receiving as an audience, thus altering our own personal beliefs. 
It would also be interesting to know if the members’ thoughts and opinions were ‘less harsh’ on the shows that aired on channel ten due to the fact that ‘GoggleBox’ is also owned by the ten network. Where as competitive channels and their television shows may have been additionally degraded. This could prove how the significance of media ownership is upon its viewers tying in with another media theme. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    jadefitzpatrick said:
    April 18, 2015 at 10:20 am

    I really liked this post. As a person that views ‘Gogglebox’ regularly, I found it extremely enjoyable to read. The show is clearly trying to be humorous and through their cast members and their opinions about what they’re viewing, they’ve successfully achieved that.
    However, your post did make me question myself. Is it a mediated public sphere or isn’t it?
    I think the cast members opinions are very honest and what they say is very much how the feel, but the producers and directors would have the ability to erase anything that goes too far, just like many, if not all, television shows. So in this sense, I see how it could be seen as a mediated public sphere.
    Great job on this post, keep at it!

    Liked by 1 person

    amberrjackson said:
    April 18, 2015 at 11:01 am

    I must admit when first hearing about the new reality TV phenomena ‘Gogglebox” I thought of it as nothing more than a stupid reality TV show that’s gone too far. However reading your blog has opened my eyes to the goggle world and made me realise the shows value stems from an appreciation for the simplistic things in everyday life.
    You raise an excellent point “…the cast of the show is claimed to be different to other TV shows as they have no reason to be broadcast, which apparently seems to connect and appeal to the ordinary viewer.” I completely agree with you in the sense that what makes the show so successful is that it is a varied a true representation of our Australian society. It is refreshing to turn on your TV and see ordinary people in their trackies with no makeup.
    I had never considered the show to be a part of the mediated public sphere until reading your blog. I think it is a very thought-provoking point you have raised about the notion of losing our original opinion. Maybe they’re opinion isn’t influencing ours, but rather we as viewers aren’t given an opportunity to express ours so, as you said, the argument becomes one sided. You also could have included that the show can contribute to the mediated public sphere as it offers a depiction of a variety of different couples, friends and families. The viewers are offered an insight into the opinions of different people which they otherwise may not have experienced.
    I love the layout of your blog, the bold larger caption for the quote you have used works very well aesthetically and you have used hyperlinking successfully! The preview you have used sums up the show perfectly for those who may have not seen it before (like me) and successfully depicts the variety of people that star on the show. An excellent blog post! Thanks for making me ‘Think, Sam’! 🙂 

    Liked by 1 person

    DIGC said:
    May 16, 2015 at 6:02 am

    Reblogged this on mooreblogsread.


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